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unable to convert all starches


Corey AD

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Hello everyone! 

 

I am new distiller for a very small distillery. I am new ish to distilling, and still trying to get my bearings on what I am doing. 

 

I am really struggling with getting complete starch conversion for my corn mash. My current cook recipe is cook 200 LB of yellow corn at 190 for 1.5 hours, add Lallemand AA and mix for another 30 minutes, then add 50 LB 2 row barley malt, and hold at 150 ish for about an hour. By my math that should be enough time, malt, and enzymes to help break down all the corn, but I cant seem to get complete conversions of the sugar, because even at an extra hour, I end up with a 6.0% beer, and the iodine test continues to show blue. I tried upping my barley to 100 LB and I ended up with a faster conversion, but it was maxing out around 6% as well, and I feel like I am wasting a lot of extra cash, and losing flavor, using that much malt compared to what I think I should be getting.

 

To add an extra step to this, I usually start with 80 gallons of water, and I use an indeterminant amount to lower the temp from the 180 ish I add the AA, to bump the temp down to 150. 

 

Thank you guys so much, I feel like I am going insane. 

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Along with Slick's questions. You're dropping the mash temp to 150 before you add the malt right? What are your starting and finishing gravities and how are you measuring them? Where are you getting 6%, from your yield?

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Sorry guys. I was not supposed to be doing this- my father started this business before having health problems and having to step away, and I am trying to make up for that as best as I can. So I am very very new and trying to learn as fast as I can.  

 

Equipment is a false bottom mash tun with electric heaters underneath. 

22 hours ago, blackheart2 said:

pH, temperature indicators and their exactness, enzyme amounts, water quality, consistency of grains, there's a ton of relevant details missing here.

Plus, there are likely a hundred similar threads here.  

 

On 1/10/2023 at 8:21 PM, SlickFloss said:

Ground whole grain? Screened? How much is your indeterminant amount of water? Is it 20 gallons? More? Less? I’m assuming you have checked the upper maximum temp of your alpha amylase enzyme with your supplier.

Starting water PH is 7.2-7.4, I have noticed it has changed during the week. 

I cook the corn to 190F. My agitator is broken so I am currently having to mix by hand, and I mix roughly every 10 minutes to break everything up. After 1.5 hours of this, I let cool to 180 and I add my Alpha Amylase from lallemand which is rated for 170-180m and let sit for 30 minutes mixing every 5 minutes. I use 200mL of this. 

I add the 2-row while dropping the temperature to 146-150, Should I be dropping temp and then adding the barley? It is usually a quick process, done within a few minutes. I have spec sheets so I can provide more detail, but the protein is 13.7% and the DP is 171. 

I let this sit for 1 hour holding the temp. The PH is 5.6-5.9 at this point. 

So I seem to have made a mistake in how I view my hydrometer- I was under the assumption that gravity directly relates to potential ABV, and if that is not correct I have been making a mistake. Should I not be paying attention to the side of the hydrometer marked "potential ABV?" My starting gravity is usually right at 1.04, and occasionally up to 1.045, but when strained and tested with iodine I still get blue, and it seems low anyway. My understanding was the optimum for a full grain was between 1.05-1.07 but I could just be freaking out about nothing. 

Again, my apologies for not being informed. I did try and search through the forums but I was unable to find specific examples of what I was looking for. Thanks everyone again! 

 

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16 hours ago, adamOVD said:

Along with Slick's questions. You're dropping the mash temp to 150 before you add the malt right? What are your starting and finishing gravities and how are you measuring them? Where are you getting 6%, from your yield?

Is it ok that I am adding barley while dropping the temp? Or should I not be doing that. 

 

And  I added this to the previous post, but I was looking at the side of the hydrometer that said Potential Starting ABV, is that not correct? 

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Enzymes in the malt won't survive long above 150F. Cool it first. If you're already using an alpha amylase you might as well use a gluco amylase too. It's cheap insurance. Pitch after the barley just under 140F.

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17 minutes ago, adamOVD said:

Enzymes in the malt won't survive long above 150F. Cool it first. If you're already using an alpha amylase you might as well use a gluco amylase too. It's cheap insurance. Pitch after the barley just under 140F.

Ok I will make sure to drop before I add. That helps a lot, thank you. 

Do you have a Gluco Amylase you like? 

Would temps around 140-145 be more optimal for the barley? 

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I use Amylo 300 from BSG, just cause I'm usually ordering stuff there anyways.

Google mash convertion temperatures, or better yet order the book Malt or Designing Great Beers. To do this well as a living you'll eventually need to understand the whys not just how, so you might as well start reading up now.

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3 hours ago, Pour Decisions said:

PH could also play a part as yours is fairly high. What is your water source?

First of all I love your name. 

 

My water source was supposed to be filtered city water, but considering the several screw ups our GC had while building the place (Which is a whole other can of worms) I can't guarantee that it actually is. 

 

Should I add some gypsum to the water before I cook?   

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3 hours ago, adamOVD said:

I use Amylo 300 from BSG, just cause I'm usually ordering stuff there anyways.

Google mash convertion temperatures, or better yet order the book Malt or Designing Great Beers. To do this well as a living you'll eventually need to understand the whys not just how, so you might as well start reading up now.

Will order the book tonight! I will look at BSG as well thank you! 

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3 hours ago, Pour Decisions said:

Also, I like the AA-400 alpha amylase and GA-150 gluco amylase from fermsolutions.  Their AA works at 150-190 and their GA works 110-150. What yeast strain are you using?

I will look at these! The yeast strain I am currently using is Lallemand GW. 

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21 hours ago, Corey AD said:

First of all I love your name. 

 

My water source was supposed to be filtered city water, but considering the several screw ups our GC had while building the place (Which is a whole other can of worms) I can't guarantee that it actually is. 

 

Should I add some gypsum to the water before I cook?   

Thanks! While gypsum can aid in lowering your water PH, I don't have any experience using it as my spring water is just right. I reread one of your posts and you state your PH is 5.6 - 5.9 after adding the barley and sitting for an hour. I'd say that's probably ok although closer to 5.2 typically makes for happier yeast.

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17 hours ago, Pour Decisions said:

Thanks! While gypsum can aid in lowering your water PH, I don't have any experience using it as my spring water is just right. I reread one of your posts and you state your PH is 5.6 - 5.9 after adding the barley and sitting for an hour. I'd say that's probably ok although closer to 5.2 typically makes for happier yeast.

The end of my fermentations typically ends up 3.4-4, thats too low right? The yeast eat through everything however. Sometimes they eat through everything in a day but I let it sit for 48 hours anyway. 

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What is your final gravity? if you ferment clean, thats what you are aiming for. If you arent fermenting out all of the way it is most likely stalling out due to pH crash.

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Gypsum will raise your mash Ph not lower it. Acid (lactic) will. Being 30 degrees off on your malt addition is definitely a bigger problem than being .4 off on your Ph though.

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On 1/14/2023 at 11:28 AM, Kindred Spirits said:

What is your final gravity? if you ferment clean, thats what you are aiming for. If you arent fermenting out all of the way it is most likely stalling out due to pH crash.

I usually don't distill unless its at 1.000. I have one crash every now and again, but usually not more than 1 or 2 a month out of 30 ish a month. 

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18 hours ago, Kindred Spirits said:

I gotcha thats not too bad, 1.000 is super clean, congrats on getting that nice of a ferment.

Yeah I don't really get it. It ends super acidic but somehow my ferments go pretty clean. 

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@Windy City My bad, get to eat humble pie today. Upon further research. I guess even though Calcium Sulfate itself is neutral, Ca will reduce pH in the mash when it reacts with the phytin from malt in the mash, and releases an H+ ion. 

 

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